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We hear a lot about water hardness, but what is it, where does it come from and what does it do?

Chemically, water hardness is made up mostly by Calcium and Magnesium. 

Water is called the universal solvent, dissolving some of almost anything it comes in contact with. And when it comes in contact with limestone or similar rock formations, it dissolves these hardness minerals. The more of these minerals it dissolves, the harder the water becomes. Hardness is most commonly measured in Grains per Gallon or Milligrams per Liter 


Water Hardness Scale

Grains Per Gallon

Milligrams Per Liter (mg/L)or Parts Per Million (ppm)


less than 1.0

less than 17.1


1.0 – 3.5

17.1 – 60

Slightly Hard

3.5 – 7.0

60 – 120

Moderately Hard

7.0 – 10.5

120 – 180


over 10.5

over 180

Very Hard

Most surface water supplies in Southern Alberta range from 9 – 15 grains per gallon hard. 

When water is just 7 grains hard, the amount of hardness in 1,000 gallons is 1 pound. That means a family of 4 in this area will bring the equivalent of a 150# boulder into their home each year.

Pipe Scale

Pipe Scale

When hard water is heated, it forms scale. This scale builds up in pipes, water heaters and appliances. You have probably noticed this scale formation in kettles.

If you have every carried out your old water heater and carried in the new one, you will no just how much rock is in the old tank. Scale acts as an insulator in your water heater. You wouldn’t want to put a brick between your stove and your pot! Just 1/8″ of scale costs an extra 18% to heat.  Studies have shown that gas water heaters operating on hard water will cost an extra 29% over the life of the heater. 


Another problem of hard water is its reaction with soap. A soap curd forms. I’m sure we have all seen film on shower tiles and doors, and bathtub ring. This is soap curd. you will get this even if you don’t step foot in the bath if you put soap in hard water. This soap curd gets on everything that is washed with soap and hard water – dishes, clothes, your skin – many people experience dry itchy skin after bathing in hard water.


Bathtub Ring

Bathtub Ring

Recently, the Water Quality Association completed a couple of studies showing The benefits of softened water – Energy Savings and Detergent Savings. Check it out here!

You owe it to yourself to try soft water. Contact us for more information on our FREE Trial!